Youth pay tribute to King


Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 3:58 p.m.
When the children spoke, the adults listened - and learned.
Not what you would normally expect, but the children at Mount Olive AME Church commanded everyone's attention with a program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during "A Salute to a Great Man" held Jan. 18 at the church.
The program honored King through songs, poems, rapping and scriptures. The children crafted the program, distributed hand-made book marks, made posters for the walls and conducted themselves with poise and grace.
And while rich in content, no time was wasted as the program moved with lightning speed. Everyone from the two-year-olds to the teens had a job to do.
Speakers Kathie Sarachild and Zohara Simmons told about their experiences as volunteers for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and their struggles in Mississippi during the summer of 1965.
Because Sarachild lost her voice (temporarily), Stephanie Seguin served as her voice. Sarachild showed a film clip dating back to that summer in Panola County, Miss.
The technology, ancient by today's standards and one that most kids probably have not seen, carried a powerful message: It showed real people doing real things like going to vote, gathering to talk, shopping, whites visiting blacks - all those things that are so normal to us but at that time could get someone killed.
Sarachild, only 21 at that time, said blacks were terrorized and beaten to keep them from voting. She said there were terrorist reprisals with law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan working together in many ways. She said it took the murder of three student volunteers, two whites and one black to bring national scrutiny to Mississippi.
Simmons, who at that time was a project organizer in Mississippi for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, said she witnessed tremendous suffering in Mississippi.
"Young people your ages were active and in the forefront in the civil rights movement. They were the bravest and most willing to join sometimes dragging their parents who were afraid. It was a grassroots movement and many fought and died, "she said. "We are fortunate to have Dr. King who was a great man but he could not have done it without the grassroots people who died for us to be able to vote."
While in Atlanta, Simmons said she heard Dr. King preach at Ebeneezer Baptist Church and marched behind King and Ralph Davis Albernathy.
At the program, the Flossie McLendon Drill Team presented the colors and Brenton Copelin presided.
Courtney Davis called the congregation to worship, Michelle Williams delivered the prayer and Michaela Bean gave the welcoming address.
Children ages 2-6, called the Sunbeamers, recited the poem, ''My People" by Langston Hughes. Children ages 7-12, called the Allen Stars, sang "He dreamed of World Peace." Children ages 12-18, the Allen Stars and the Youth Auxiliary, peformed a rap song titled, "Martin Luther King Jr." Danielle Brown led the children in a question-and-answer segment about King.
There were closing remarks by Cynthia Mingo, the Area Young People's Division president, the Rev. Hudson Williamson, pastor of Mount Olive, and Brenton, president of the Area Young People's Division.

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